“Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, ‘Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?’
Jesus said, ‘You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.’
… Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, (the man who had received his sight) and went and found him. He asked him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’”
John 9:1-3 (The Message)
I love good questions. In fact, in many situations I believe the questions are more important than the answers they surface. This is especially true when questions express curiosity that leads to new insight, or they encourage critical thinking, or they invite persons to open their hearts and minds to reveal more fully the persons God has created them to be.
Of course, not all questions are helpful. Sometimes questions are rhetorical—they answer themselves. Other questions can produce anxiety and put persons on the defensive. Still other questions can be used by the questioner as proof of superior knowledge or achievement. Sometimes a misplaced question can bring an early end to a promising conversation.
The verses above are the opening to John’s story of Jesus’ healing of the man born blind. You might say this whole episode got off on the wrong question! Jesus said as much.
An alternate way to look at the story might be to call it the story of the man who was listening. Apparently as he had lived his life without physical sight, he had learned to listen carefully both to what others said to him and to his own heart and experience.
The disciples got the story started with the wrong question. And it went down hill from there in terms of how other people handled the situation. There were 14 questions (count them!) in the story (from neighbors, parents, and Pharisees–twice!) that seemed to get nowhere until Jesus reappeared and asked a question that stood out from the rest: “Do you believe in me?”
All the while the man who was listening fended off the questions by retelling (again and again!) what had happened to him when he followed Jesus’ instructions to go to the Pool of Siloam and wash out the mud Jesus had put in his eyes.
He shows us how using our gifts of listening (to others and to our own heart) can go together with hearing questions that invite us out of ourselves to live relationally the God-given life of love and forgiveness we are created to live.
Take time to read the story again. Notice how Jesus’ actions to give this man who listens his sight back leads him to have growing confidence as his life opened up and he had a greater story to tell.
God’s actions in our lives are like that too. God is ever a God who is making a way out of no way!
Take a moment today (and each day perhaps) to think of a good question that God may be stirring in you to help you to be a better listener to others and to your own heart. Jot it down and keep it in mind throughout the day. Review it at the end of the day and notice what happened.
O God who gives us all our senses, help us use these gifts to honor you, develop loving and forgiving relationships with others, and respond to the questions that invite us to open our lives and live the bigger story you have given us to live.